Abusing Science

Number 20 of a series

This series is dedicated to stories related to abuse of science. Abuse can take a number of forms, including outright fraud. Sometimes the approach is to talk it to death. This appears to be the approach in a video from Fox News. It’s the Mark Levin Show from last year. I see no indication of when this aired, but it was posted to YouTube on 21 October 2018.

Here we see host Mark Levin interviewing Patrick Michaels, a real scientist involved in climate research. Put it all together, Fox News, Mark Levin, Patrick Michaels—it’s going to be some kind of global warming denial. From Wikipedia:

Patrick J. (“Pat“) Michaels (born February 15, 1950) is an American climatologist. Michaels is a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute. Until 2007 he was research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, where he had worked from 1980.[2][3]

A self-described skeptic on the issue of global warming, he is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has written a number of books and papers on climate change, including Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming (1992), The Satanic Gases (2000), and Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (2004). He’s also the co-author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know (2009).[2] Michaels’ viewpoint, as argued in a 2002 article in the journal Climate Research, is that the planet will see “a warming range of 1.3–3.0°C, with a central value of 1.9°C” for the 1990 to 2100 period (a value far smaller than the IPCC’s average predictions).

Yes, I forgot to mention the Cato Institute:

The Cato Institute is an American libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was founded as the Charles Koch Foundation in 1974 by Ed CraneMurray Rothbard, and Charles Koch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the conglomerate Koch Industries. In July 1976, the name was changed to the Cato Institute. Cato was established to have a focus on public advocacy, media exposure and societal influence.[8]According to the 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies ProgramUniversity of Pennsylvania), Cato is number 15 in the “Top Think Tanks Worldwide” and number 10 in the “Top Think Tanks in the United States”.

The Cato Institute is libertarian in its political philosophy, and advocates a limited role for government in domestic and foreign affairs. This includes support for abolishing minimum wage laws; opposition to universal health care; the privatization of many government agencies including Social Security, NASA, and the United States Postal Service as well as public schooling; abolishing child labor laws; and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

I have encountered the Cato Institute before and have noted they often come down against scientific studies that go against their philosophical leaning. With all that said about Michaels and Cato, what really counts is what is true and what they have to say about it. You can see what Michaels has to say by watching the video, and there appears to be a transcript on line dated 21 October 2018. I will post a few excerpts. Start with this.

LEVIN: It’s a great honor to see you, Patrick Michaels, doctor. Expert on all things climate and environment, as far as I’m concerned. A little bit of your background. You’re the Director of the Center for Study of Science at the Cato Institute. You hold an AB and SM, you hold those degrees in Biology, Sciences and Plant Ecology from the University of Chicago – pretty good school. PhD in Ecological Climatology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, 1979. You’re past President of the American Association of State Climatologists. You were Program Chairman for the Committee on Applied Climatology at the American Meteorological Society. Say that fast five times.

That is some build-up, and I recall seeing this kind of thing before. When creationists introduced an authority to debunk evolution, they would go to great lengths to lay out  his credentials to make sure I knew this was not some blowhard come to dish the dirt. I must declare my suspicions get tickled when I see this kind of thing.

With that, it will be interesting to see what Patrick Michaels has to say. To start, he does not deny global warming, and he does not deny an element of human contribution. His assessment is that we are behind about half the observed rise, and the rest is natural.

MICHAELS: Well, surface temperature of the planet is warmer than it was a hundred years ago about 9/10th of a degree Celsius.

LEVIN: Nine-tenth degree of a degree Celsius.

MICHAELS: That’s all.

LEVIN: Is that a lot?

MICHAELS: No. It’s not a lot. There are two periods of warning, one in the early 20th Century that could not have been caused by human beings because we hadn’t put enough CO2 in the air, and one in the later part of the 20th Century that either slows down or ends depending upon whose data you use somewhere in the late 1990s, only to resume with the big El Nino that covered the news the last couple of years.

So that means that probably about half, maybe half of that nine-tenths of the degree might be caused by greenhouse gases because when the planet warmed beginning in 1976, the temperature of the stratosphere started to drop and that’s the prediction of greenhouse theory that’s not intuitive. The great philosopher of science Karl Popper said, if you can meet a difficult prediction with your theory, you can continue to entertain your theory.

Stop here for a moment. “[O]nly to resume with the big El Nino that covered the news the last couple of years.” Professor Michaels, an El Niño  event is a weather phenomenon, confined to a locality (large in this case) of the planet. Stuff like that gets ironed out in the averages. For perspective, the most recent temperature plots I have—representing global averages—show a continued rise to the present day. Here is one from Berkeley Earth, and I have preserved the largest available size to enable you to examine it up close. Click on the image to get the large view.

He also talks about atmospheric modeling, which figures greatly in predicting the effects of adding CO2 to the atmosphere. He wants us to know the bulk of models being used are worthless and he lays this at the feet of the practice of parameterizing the models.

But we just don’t really have a good explanation for that, but because we forced the computer models to say, “Aha, human influence, CO2 and other stuff.” We made the models too sensitive, and so that’s why when you get to the late 20th Century, all of a sudden they’re warming up like crazy and the reality is down here. It was guaranteed to happen.

This was revealed in “Science” magazine in late 2016, and there was a paper that was published by a French climate modeler called “The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning,” and in it, he speaks of parameterizing — we could say fudging — the models to give, his words, an anticipated acceptable range of results. [emphasis added]

Being what I am, I felt the need to track down this particular reference. In truth, I could find no such article appearing in Science magazine in the weeks (October) preceding the 2016 election. I did find this: “Using climate models to estimate the quality of global observational data sets.” Science, 28 October 2016, Vol. 354 Issue 6311, p. 452. There is an item with a similar name: “The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning,” which Michaels may have been thinking about, but this was not published in Science, and it came out in 2017, not 2016. You can pull it up to read for yourself, but here is the abstract:

We survey the rationale and diversity of approaches for tuning, a fundamental aspect of
climate modeling, which should be more systematically documented and taken into account in multimodel analysis.

An introductory paragraph:

As is often the case in sciences that address complex systems, numerical models have become central in climate science (Edwards 2001). General circulation models of the atmosphere were originally developed for numerical weather forecasting (e.g., Phillips 1956). The coupling of global atmospheric and oceanic models began with Manabe and Bryan (1969) and came of age in the 1980s and 1990s. Global climate models or Earth system models (ESMs) are nowadays used extensively to study climate changes caused by anthropogenic and natural perturbations (Lynch 2008; Edwards 2010). The evaluation and improvement of these global models is the driver of much theoretical and observational research. Publications that analyze the simulations coordinated at an international level in the frame of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) constitute a large part of the material synthesized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports. Beyond their use for prediction and
projection at meteorological to climatic time scales, global models play a key role in climate science. They are used to understand and assess the mechanisms at work, while accounting for the complexity of the climate system and for the spatial and temporal scales involved (Dalmedico 2001; Held 2005).

Michaels decries the climate models being used by various governments, except, he says, the one used by the Russians is accurate. Additionally he displays a plot that purports to show the divergence between the parameterized models and actual measurements. Here it is. Click on the image to get the full size:

Sum of the story, Michaels is jawboning the issue. He agrees that humans are contributing to global warming, but he excuses this by noting there are other contributions. He points to outrageous predictions and shows how they failed. He notes the increase in property damage by weather correlates to the increase in property to be damaged (in terms of the GDP). But he never denies the existence of the human contribution, which he cannot. I urge readers to watch the video and get back to me. There is more I would be able to add, given more time and space.

Next up: a YouTube video pushing some weird science.

People Unclear

This is number 56 of a series

Can we all hold up for a moment. Apparently there are some who have not gotten the message. Here’s one, and he’s from Fox News.

(CNN) — The Trump administration says a group of migrants now making their way through Mexico is a national security threat, and some conservative commentators claim that they are a threat to Americans’ health. But experts say the people whose health is most at risk are the migrants themselves.

A story in the right-wing magazine The New American this weekend was headlined Will Migrant Caravan Kill Your Child – With Disease? On Monday, “Fox& Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that the refugees pose a threat because they carry “diseases” and shouldn’t be let in.

A commentator on Fox, former immigration agent David Ward, also claimedthat the migrants carry disease “such as smallpox and leprosy and [tuberculosis] that are going to infect our people in the United States.” Later, according to the Daily Beast, Fox’s press office sent out a clip clarifying the issue that mentioned only TB and leprosy and added, “we have no way of independently confirming this.”

There is no doubt, dear readers, that a mass immigration, such as represented by the caravan of trekkers heading toward our souther border, need to be checked for infectious diseases before being admitted into the country. Fox commentator David Ward may, however, have gone overboard by adding small pox to the list. Some analysis is needed.

First, small pox is not likely to be among those coming here. That’s because as of about 1980 the last vestige of the pox virus was eliminated from the environment. Samples exist only in research labs. Notice, Fox later clarified the story, dropping the pox. But not leprosy.

Truth be known, leprosy is a much feared malady, perhaps unreasonably so.

Leprosy is spread between people and possibly from armadillos. This is thought to occur through a cough or contact with fluid from the nose of an infected person. Leprosy occurs more commonly among those living in poverty. Contrary to popular belief, it is not highly contagious.

It may be possible to keep out the people coming from Central America, but the armadillos are going to be a tougher nut to crack. Perhaps the Trump administration, and possibly Fox News, need to switch from demonizing people and to go after the real threat, armadillos.

This is your President speaking.

Number 137

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“The FBI only looked at 3000 of 675,000 Crooked Hillary Clinton Emails.” They purposely didn’t look at the disasters. This news is just out.

Students, today we will study a classic rhetorical device that I like to call, “Hey! Look over there.”

Moral Bankruptcy

The Beginning of a New Series

If you want to find God you need go no further than 1707 San Jacinto Street in Dallas, Texas. That’s where you will find that bastion of Christianity presided over by Dr. Robert Jeffress—the First Baptist Church of Dallas. And what a monument to higher power it is. Founded 30 July 1868, its membership reported two years ago is approximately 12,000. I lived in Dallas many years and always knew this church as the go-to place for the city’s movers and shakers. Sunday attendance is massive, and what a congregation it is. From the church Web site:

There can be little doubt this institution embodies all we come to think of regarding morality, faith, wealth, and power. Except for the part about morality. The back story shows that “morality” is difficult to pin down.

W. A. Criswell, in a discussion of racial integration, stated that he expressed astonishment at the cowardice of ministers “whose forebears [sic] and predecessors were martyrs and were burned at the stake”, but who themselves refuse to speak up about “this thing of integration”. True ministers, he argued, must passionately resist government mandated desegregation because it is “a denial of all that we believe in”.

Current pastor Jeffress has spoken out in the past against MuslimsJewsCatholicsMormons and homosexuals, claiming that Islam “promoted pedophilia“. In 2008, Jeffress, in his sermon “Gay Is Not OK”, stated that “What they [homosexuals] do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.” In September 2010, Pastor Jeffress branded Islam as an “evil, evil religion”. And in December 2010, Jeffress established a “Naughty and Nice List” where businesses are identified based on whether or not they openly celebrated Christmas, saying “I wanted to do something positive to encourage businesses to acknowledge Christmas and not bow to the strident voices of a minority who object to the holiday.” Also in 2010, he referred to Roman Catholicism as a “Satanic” result of “Babylonian mystery religion”. In October 2011 at the Values Voter Summit, Jeffress branded The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as “a cult”. He received widespread criticism for his statement, but has not retracted it despite then U.S. presidential candidate and LDS church member Mitt Romney‘s request for him to do so.

Yeah, not a train load of brotherly love going to waste here. I recall those years when W. A. Criswell was the man. He is credited with building the church to its current greatness and apparently with setting its current tone. What an honor it was to view this spectacle from a distance. Now it’s time to take a long view.

Since I retired it became my job to sign up for email from the likes of Pastor Robert Jeffress, and there has been no shortage of fascinating stuff landing in my in-box. A recurring theme is selling salvation.

So, enough of that. I know that a church, any church, cannot live off of air. There has got to be a source of income. With a reported net worth of $15 million, Pastor Jeffress far outstrips my personal fortune (shared with Barbara Jean), and we all know God does not pay his shepherds out of pocket. But God is for sale. That given, what follows?

How about concern for basic humanity? Not so much, as evidenced by the company he keeps. In this analysis we should distinguish Pastor Jeffress from his predecessor, W.A. Criswell:

Criswell did not mince words. He railed against both the National Council of Churches and the NAACP as those “two-by scathing, good-for-nothing fellows who are trying to upset all of the things that we love as good old Southern people and as good old Southern Baptists.”

He even used racist humor to make his points: “Why the NAACP has got those East Texans on the run so much that they dare not pronounce the word chigger any longer. It has to be cheegro.”

Criswell saw integration an attack on both state rights and democracy by carpetbaggers. Even more so, it was a blow to Southern Baptist religious liberty: Churches had the right and the responsibility to keep their congregations segregated.

To his credit, Pastor Jeffress adopts a more civilized tone. I do not, however, see him seeking the company of moral icons. See the following images from my in-box.

Yeah, Pastor Jeffress is a great fan of Fox News and President Donald Trump. The allegiance is reciprocated. An important note from the the above is worth digesting: “Donald Trump may be the most faith-friendly president in history…” The note also mentions Jeffress’ role in the Trump inauguration. When your definition of faith falls to this level the evidence accumulates rapidly:

Pastor Jeffress’ definition of morality is one I never encountered in my growing up. From where I view his claims of morality, Pastor Jeffress is running on empty.

The Golden Shower

Number 33 of a Series

I recently finished reading James Clapper’s book, Facts and Fears, out last month and available in a Kindle edition for $15 ($14.99 plus tax). Clapper is a retired Air Force lieutenant general, more recently serving as Director of National Intelligence. His final day on the job was inauguration day for President Donald Trump, and during his long career in military intelligence and in the civilian intelligence system he had great opportunity to observe the workings of our government’s very expensive system for gathering information.

In his course he developed a great respect for fact and the telling of truth. As he observed the candidacy of Donald Trump he was dismayed at both the lack of regard for truth and at the same time the ever more obvious fact that Mr. Trump was under the influence of a foreign government. The later chapters of his book deal with his assessment of Mr. Trump and with the influence the Russian government exerted on the 2016 election.

To be clear, it quickly became obvious to American intelligence that Vladimir Putin’s government despised candidate Hillary Clinton, and it set its intelligence warfare apparatus to work with the aim to undermine her candidacy. When Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee, much of the Russians’ effort swung toward support for the Trump campaign. I will write a review of the book, but for now a few excerpts will illustrate James Clapper’s observations.

The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We knew now that the Russians had thousands of Twitter accounts and tens of thousands of bots that posted more than a million tweets. They posted more than a thousand videos on YouTube with days of streaming content. Facebook has said Russian content reached 126 million of its American users—an astonishing number, considering that only 139 million Americans voted.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 395). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Most interesting was the extent to which members of Congress, dominated by Trump’s party, were eager to support the narrative pushed by Russian intelligence. Particularly, the Fox cable network, which never seems to find a right wing notion it will not support, diligently assisted in the Russian effort.

In April, Mr. Trump first used the phrase “lying, crooked Hillary” to refer to his likely opponent in the primary election. RT, Fox News, and paid and unpaid trolls across social media latched on to the moniker. Russia and the Trump campaign seemed to be quite in sync, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were colluding—coordinating their efforts behind closed doors. They may simply have had a lot in common: a strong dislike for both the Washington political establishment and Hillary Clinton personally; a proclivity for social media, particularly Twitter, which meant they’d end up sharing each other’s ideas on the internet [sic]; and a genuine delight in wallowing in conspiracy theories.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 334). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

If you are not familiar with the RT television network, an excerpt from Wikipedia will be helpful:

RT (formerly Russia Today) is a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government. It operates cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and Russian.

Government intelligence agencies initiated an intense investigation into the activities waged against the election, and this effort continues to the present. Prior to the end of his term in office, President Obama ordered briefings on these intelligence findings and made them available to the new administration. With great dismay, the intelligence community found that rather than accepting these findings whole heartedly, the Trump administration pushed back with a vengeance. After Donald Trump assumed office FBI Director James Comey declined to put an end to the bureau’s investigation and President Trump fired him. Subsequently a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, was appointed to investigate and to bring criminal charges to those involved in criminal activity. That was 13 months ago, and during all this time the Trump administration, right-leaning members of Congress, and also conservative news outlets, have maintained an effort to end these investigations and, failing that, to undermine public confidence in the findings and in the people working the case.

With some surprise, I find amusement in all this. An element of my amusement is a stream  of imagery running across my TV screen almost daily. Most recently, there was John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight.

Oliver claims this is one of a series he calls “Stupid Watergate.”

Regardless, it’s Oliver’s biting— and at the same time humorous—take, on the massive pushback against the Mueller investigation and on the simultaneous attacks against the American intelligence agencies. I streamed the TV episode on my computer and captured 59 screen shots to illustrate the story line, and I may not use all of them in this posting. Here’s the story.

Fox Network is particularly aggressive in casting the investigation as a witch-hunt. Sean Hannity, who has very close ties with the president, does not have enough time in a day to say all he wants relating to the matter.

Tucker Carlson is no less effusive.

Additionally, Fox has Sebastian Gorka, Roger Stone, Newt Gingrich, and even President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

At this time I need to apologize if somebody in these shots appears in bad form. Truth is I have to watch these stream live on YouTube, and I have to snag the Print Screen button at just the right moment, when nobody’s eyes are closed, or worse. Sometimes I am successful.

Anyhow, they are all calling the Mueller investigation a witch-hunt, prompting John Oliver to declare therefore there must be witches.

New indictment filed against Manafort names ally with Russian intel ties. “… 20 people and 3 companies have been charged.”

From The New York Times:

Mueller investigation enters year two: What comes next — and how it could end “Five guilty pleas.”

Oliver points out the objective of this jawboning the matter has the goal of reducing public confidence in the process and the people. Last July 62% of those polled thought the investigation should continue. By April of this year the level had dropped to 54%. The strategy seems to be working.

On another matter, it is being claimed by the president and his allies that federal authorities planted a spy in his organization back in 2016. This narrative is being pushed relentlessly, despite a complete lack of evidence.

Oliver outlines three tactics employed to deflect the investigation findings. The first is “redefine,” establish a alternate definition of what the investigation is about and attack that.

Here is a woman commenting on Fox News. Somebody please help me to identify her, because I have no clue. Anyhow, we hear her saying:

Mueller is there to show collusion between Russia and Trump, and there is [none] so far, so why not end it.

Hannity is saying:

Where is there any evidence of collusion? Show us. Nothing so far. Not a whiff.

Katrina Pierson, advisor for Trump 2020 campaign:

There is zero evidence of Russia collusion.

And Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway makes the ultimate case, and if anybody can explain it to me, then I will buy them a beer. And I will have one for myself.

Unkindly, Oliver reminds these good people that evidence of Russian collusion is not and never was a part of Mueller’s directive. His task, as originally directed by his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was to [investigate]:

“… any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of  President Donald Trump …”

The second tactic is what Oliver calls “whataboutism.”

Yeah, what about all that stuff others do? Hannity points to our notorious two-tiered justice system, apparently one set of rules for his favorite president and another set for everybody else.

He informs us of the massive load of malfeasance perpetrated by those others.

These are all very bad people, and if anybody can tell me what they have done that warrants my attention, then there is another beer waiting.

Oliver counters with his own list, equally staked out. Almost anybody can put a bulletin board and a list of perps in bold white font.

He notes the utility of this approach. If you produce a movie, and it gets a bad rating, then you can point to the blockbuster hit From Justin to Kelly. “Look at how bad that was, so why am I not getting an Oscar?”

The logic is impossible to challenge.

Then there is the counter narrative.

I don’t watch Fox News much, so I missed out on some stuff. Apparently Hannity has a passel of conspiracy theory story boards that outline the Mueller and Clinton crime families.

Who would have suspected this stuff was going on? Possibly not Hannity, but definitely a basket full of deplorables, who bought into this line and voted for Donald Trump. Sadly, it turns out, there is one graphic which even John Oliver is unable to decipher. Explanation please, and another beer.

More or less echoing what James Clapper details in his book, Hannity has been on the air “night after night” pushing the theory that the investigation is one massive plot to take down President Trump, and it involves the Democrats, the FBI, the “deep state,” and “establishment” Republicans. Hannity repeats a favorite catch phrase, calling the Mueller investigation bigger than Watergate. He says again and again it makes Watergate look “like stealing a Snickers bar.” There follows a sequence of shots similar to the one below and showing Hannity invoking the Snickers comparison.

This gives Oliver the opening to have his own fun with a Snickers bar.

Two of the names on Hannity’s “Waiting to be Raided” board are Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. These were two government workers originally gainfully employed in the Mueller investigation. While so employed, they were also enjoying some sub rosa snuggle bunnies. They were humping on the sly while married to others. Worse, they were found to have exchanged disparaging remarks about Donal Trump, said exchanges being conveyed through their employer’s email system. Mueller dismissed both from the investigation upon learning this, and they have since left government service.

Gone from the taxpayers feed trough, the pair still provide grist for the Fox News mill. Gregg Jarrett does not pass up the opportunity to refer to them: “If these two cheating love birds, who were still married to other people at the time, have any opportunity to still do their jobs at the FBI …”

This is the opening for Hannity. He is ripe to unload on Page with choice characterization:

There she is. FBI love bird Lisa Page …

This is scandalous beyond the pale. I mean, Watergate comes off as filching a Snickers bar by comparison.

That stalwart of moral propriety, Mike Huckabee, joins the chorus. He goes full conspiratorial, cupping his hands to his mouth as he intones “and secret lover” when referring to Page. Hester Prynne somebody else need your A.

Appears to be the same Fox News mystery woman, dishing on Strzok and Page. They are getting off the hook for their misdeeds to keep the anti-Trump scheme on  oxygen.

The pair’s misdeeds are undisputed. From The Washington Post:

FBI officials’ text message about Hillary Clinton said to be a cover story for romantic affair. “… relied on work phones to try to hide their romance from a spouse …”

The views they exchanged were unworthy of government employees:

“God trump is a lothsome human.”

“God Hillary should win 1,000,000,000 – 0.”

Imagine what kind of person would say such a thing about Donald Trump. A possible description might be “sentient life form.”

The picture painted by those pesky facts is less than lurid. From The Wall Street Journal, which went to the trouble of reading the several thousand messages exchanged between the two:

Inside the FBI Life of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as Told in  their Text Messages

The conclusion being “… show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump.”

Introducing “Spy Gate,” a more recent Hannity brain storm, according to Oliver.

At this point I pause to weep for the English lexicon. Forty-six years ago the Democratic Party was headquartered in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The etymology for this site has a local history, but at the time I was already acquainted with the need to apply spiffy names to mundane constructions, being acquainted with the newly-constructed Westgate building in Austin, Texas.

Anyhow, for the next two years the word Watergate was on the front page of about every American newspaper, and it got stuck in copywriters’ heads, filling that empty place from which originality is supposed to flow. Since the time it has become the custom to name a scandal of any scale by snagging a tag word and appending “gate.” Shortly there was Koreagate:

 … in 1976 involving South Korean political figures seeking influence from 10 Democratic members of Congress.

After that there was no holding back the flood, producing among many, Tunagate. Alas, “Spygate” was inevitable.

Despite Mr. Hannity’s deepest desires and despite what fuels the fever in his imaginative brain, Spygate is he stuff of yawns. From The New York Times:

F.B.I. Used informant to investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

“… F.B.I. agents sent an informant to  talk to two campaign advisers [who] had suspicious contacts linked to Russia …”

Working at a cut above Alex Jones, Fox News relentlessly pumps the Spygate liturgy. Congressman Trey Gowdy, no stranger to investigative overreach, is seen telling panelists on CBS This Morning that the FBI was doing exactly what the FBI is required to do in such a situation. Not good news for Fox and Friends, and not so good for Congressman Gowdy, as well, his comments drawing immediate fire from Trump supporters.

Fox and Friends want us to know government investigators spooked the Trump campaign apparatus in a dark scheme to undermine the candidate. In a different world, where the sun comes up every morning, newspaper headlines read, “FBI Investigates Possible Crime.”

Oliver characterizes this as reporting that Domino’s delivers pizza. Who would have thought of that?

We see Lou Dobbs, commenting on Gowdy’s remarks:

I’m naming names here. I’m through with it. Trey Gowdy … is schizophrenic … He is absolutely in the service of the establishment. And the deep state, where they are consciously … purposely …

And that is so amusing, because “the establishment” is what left wing radicals used to call the Republican Party 50 years ago.

Oliver reminds us this is in  accordance with Conspiracy Theory 101 [my words]. Anybody speaking against the conspiracy theory is part of the conspiracy.

Something is obvious wrong here. We see Hannity making the case in a most queer way:

No evidence of Trump Russia collusion. Mueller, if you got it, come on the show and tell America. And by the way, if the media, if you have more proof that this is not a witch-hunt. OK. I don’t believe you.

Oh Jesus. They have reached the tipping point. No amount of counter evidence will convince them. This is Conspiracy Theory 101 §1.2. Take note, students. It’s going to be on the quiz.

Oliver cruelly reminds viewers of what is known. In June 2016 Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting in  Trump Tower with a Russian agent who promised to provide dirt on candidate Clinton.

The hard facts available to us are not the result of any deep state intrusion into a political campaign, nor are they the result of an aggressive FBI investigation. We know these things because Donald Trump Jr., oldest son of the current president, tweeted this information out, from which it was picked up and published in a major newspaper.

Hannity has a masterful comeback to that bit of news.

He proudly reveals that a Russian-American lobbyist at the Trump Tower meeting reports knows Hillary Clinton and associates.

Score for Hannity! Not quite. Supposedly Hillary Clinton sent a Russian agent to a meeting with the aim of spilling incriminating evidence on herself. Oliver properly catalogs this response as the “shittiest conspiracy theory ever.” And I did not even realize this was supposed to be a contest.

Putting it all together, Hillary Clinton, her good friend Trey Gowdy, and the FBI, engaged in a dark  plot to sabotage the Trump campaign. Pardon me while I take a break and have another beer.

If this explanation is correct, then a massive conspiracy involved diverse people and agencies working diligently to cost Trump the election. Then came the time to implement it and they all took vacation. Yes, I believe that. I believe it. I think.

But wait! Please do not come at me with pitchforks and blazing torches, but I have horrendous news for you. It works. All this finagling with the truth and all this carpet bombing the airwaves with cockamamie conjectures actually convinces a large segment of the population. Clips from [apparently] an Emory University focus group study record remarks from adult American  citizens.

They call it a farce, created by the deep state.

It was a witch-hunt to overturn the election. All of this stuff that they say Trump did, they are finding out the Democrats did.

It’s been going on for a year and a half. They found nothing. She told … Oh, there’s something, there’s something. We’ll find it, we’ll find it. There’s nothing.

I hope you are sleeping better tonight. Don’t let me keep you awake.

Oliver likens it to the O.J. Simpson defense, which relied on discrediting parts of the state’s case and then convincing jurors the remainder of the case was similarly flawed. Trump supporters, including a major American news outlet, work with immense energy to keep the story alive while it gradually sinks in.

Oliver leaves us wondering whether, when it is all done, and Donald Trump skates free of any jail time, he will recapitulate O.J. and publish a tell-some book titled “If I Did It.” I will wait for the Kindle edition.

The intelligence community’s investigation continues, and Robert Mueller continues to bring charges and to prosecute people. Despite having President Trump and many others refer to this work as a witch-hunt, Mueller’s team continues to find offenses that require prosecution. At least one party so charged has already served his term in jail.

American intelligence has established credibility for their findings related to Russian efforts to undermine our electoral process and also to compromise the American president. The Steele dossier, which surfaced late in the 2016 election cycle, details Russian efforts to influence Donald Trump, and many of the allegations included in it have good confirmation. Other parts have not, including a humorous section after which this series is titled:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

The vision of a future American President, paying to watch prostitutes pee on a bed in an upscale Moscow hotel would have been difficult to summon up scant years ago. Times have changed, and the Golden Shower is now a meme I promote at every opportunity. I hoist it as a banner against the oft-cited basket of deplorables that allowed themselves to be manipulated by a foreign government to elect the sorriest piece of humanity to ever lead our country. My fondest hope is that when these people close their eyes for the last time, this is the vision what remains burned into their retinas. And that’s just me being gracious.


Number 32 in a series

People ask me, “How come you don’t do one of these every day?” Actually, nobody asks. But if they did ask I would have to concede I am at the point where I’m running low on energy. But for an ambitious landscaping project, I might have posted this Friday while it was still hot. Which reminds me, I need to be sure to get Barbara Jean a birthday present.

Anyhow, the following image, a screen shot from MSNBC streaming on YouTube, shows some people desperately in need of assistance.

These are the hosts (Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade) of Fox and Friends on (where else) the Fox network, and if they appear distressed to you, then you are imagining things. That’s because I watched this episode, and I can tell you that at this point in a thirty-minute sequence these people were desperate to not appear distressed, but they were squirming, and they were trying mightily to get a caller off the phone. They were also trying mightily to conceal that fact. The reason for their discomfort is the caller was their supreme, exalted patron, the President of the United States, who had just spent the major part of half an hour demonstrating why I call him the Schlemiel-in-Chief.

If you just returned from a trek through the desert on a horse with no name, then I need to inform you what the rest of the nation already knows. The Fox network show Fox and Friends comes on at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, and sometimes the President of the United States phones in, and the hosts are always glad to have him, they being his chief cheer leading squad. Last Thursday that joy appeared to last all of ten minutes. Some explanation as to why:

TRUMP: People have to understand how dishonest the news is. And in all fairness to Fox, you guys don’t always treat me great. But you treat me fairly. It’s not like Fox is perfect for me. They’re not! They’re tough. But at least it’s fair. When you look at some of the others, you look at like a CNN, they’ll have a council of seven people [audibly becoming enraged] and of the seven people, every one of them is against me! I’m saying, where do they even find these people?

BRIAN KILMEADE: I’m not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would recommend you watch less of them.

TRUMP: I don’t watch them at all! I watched last night, I tell you what. I watched leaking lying Comey last night [Steve Doocy guffaws sycophantically] and I did, I hated to do it, you know, one of the reasons, people say, “You’re still looking good, Mr. President—how do you do it?” [Ed.: No one says this, I hope]

DOOCY: All right—

There is more from Fortune:

Trump criticized the Obama administration and former Secretary of State John Kerry for not handling tensions with North Korea sooner.

“This should have been settled long before I came into office,” he said, calling Kerry “the worst negotiator” he’s ever seen.

The president said he did watch the interview with former FBI director James Comey on CNN Wednesday night.

“His performance, by the way, was horrible,” Trump said. He blasted Comey as a criminal, calling him a “leaker and a liar.”

“He is guilty of crimes,” the president said. “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”

On Michael Cohen pleading the fifth

“This doesn’t have to do with me, Michael is a businessman,” the president said. “I have nothing to do with his business.”

He emphasized the small role Cohen played in his own legal affairs.

“Just so you understand, I have many attorneys. So many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it,” Trump said. “He represented me on this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, and from what I can see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

The president hit his favorite highlights in the interview with Fox and Friends, criticizing CNN and NBC, among others, as “fake news,” and bragging about his electoral college win.

“The electoral college is set up perfectly for the Democrats,” he said, “They should never lose the electoral college and they did.”

Trump repeated the claim that the Russia investigation is an effort by Democrats to save face after an embarrassing loss, citing the number of electoral votes he won.

On how he would grade his time in office so far

“I would give myself an A+,” Trump said. “Nobody has done what I’ve been able to do and I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a phony cloud over my head that doesn’t exist.”

He spoke about accomplishments like deregulation and the Republican tax bill, but mostly emphasized the challenges he’s faced during his first year.

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people — drain the swamp — that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side,” the president said. “So we have a phony deal going on and it’s a cloud over my head. And I’ve been able to really escape that cloud, because the message now everyone knows now it’s a fix, it’s a witch hunt.”

From Vanity Fair:

Doocy, Kilmeade, and Earhardt endured the deluge heroically, fidgeting slightly at times, and offering small laughs as they encouraged the president and tried to keep him on track. The interview went off the rails, however, when the Fox hosts asked Trump about the Russia investigation dogging his presidency, and whether he would agree to interview with Mueller:

“Well, if I can. The problem is that it’s such a—if you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation. You have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. They’re all—I don’t mean Democrats. I mean, like, the real deal. And then you look at the phony Lisa Page and [Peter] Strzok and the memos back and forth and the F.B.I.—and by the way, you take a poll at the F.B.I. I love the F.B.I.; the F.B.I. loves me. But the top people at the F.B.I., headed by Comey, were crooked.”

“You look at the corruption at the top of the F.B.I.—it’s a disgrace,” Trump continued, practically yelling, as the Fox hosts stared ahead nervously. “And our Justice Department—which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t—our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me, and everyone knows it.”

As the Fox & Friends control room may have guessed, Trump’s burning anger could come at the expense of his current legal-defense strategy. With Mueller reportedly investigating the president and his associates for obstruction of justice in the Russian collusion probe, Trump’s lawyers have urged him to stay quiet about the special counsel’s work and allow his investigation to go forward. By impugning the F.B.I. and threatening to intervene at the Justice Department, Trump may have just given his adversaries more legal ammunition. He may also have undermined his case in more roundabout ways: at another point, he referred to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen as having done a “tiny, tiny little fraction of my legal work”—an apparent attempt to distance himself from Cohen, who he admitted represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, immediately called the admission a “gift from the heavens” and “hugely damaging”: not only did Trump’s statement suggest he was aware that Cohen had paid hush money to Daniels, it also undercut Cohen’s argument that his communications with Trump, recently seized by the F.B.I., are protected by attorney-client privilege.

I find it breathtaking that three Fox TV hosts grasped something the President of the United States failed to. That is when Fox host Steve Doocy spoke words that may eventually be carved in granite.

Meyers unpacked what he called the “truly crazy rant” that was Trump’s phone interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday morning. It was a conversation in which the Commander-in-Chief “rambled on for so long about so many random topics that at one point the Fox & Friends hosts said they were the ones who were running out of time,” Meyers said — before cutting to footage of the Fox & Friends hosts’ deflating expressions and Steve Doocy interrupting Trump to say, “We’re running out of time.” [Emphasis added]

On the first level Doocy was wanting to get the President of the United States off the air, back into his box, and safe from American ears. On another level Doocy may have offered up a prophecy. We [Fox and Trump] are running out of time. There is only so much longer this comedy can go on before it is dragged down by the sheer weight of its lunacy.

In the meantime, President Trump has trapped himself with his own words. Two hours after this bit flapped publicly, Justice Department lawyers handed into a judge an argument that the President’s words have unraveled his claims for attorney-client privilege in the investigation of his lawyer, Michael Cohen.


In particular, the letter to Kimba M. Wood United States District Judge Southern District of New York, government lawyers used the President’s language from the Fox and Friends interview against his case.

2 If Cohen’s request for a privilege log were to be granted, there is no reason the Government’s Investigative Team could not review the privilege log.
3 As the Court is aware, after originally stating that the Government seized “thousands, if not millions,” of pages of privileged documents, Cohen subsequently identified three current clients.Of those three clients, one, Sean Hannity, has since said that “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.” Another, President Trump, reportedly said on cable television this morning that Cohen performs “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here.

If ever there was a definition for Schlemiel-in-Chief, then this should be enshrined.

This is your President speaking.

Number 59 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Thank you to for the great timeline on all of the failures the Obama Administration had against Russia, including Crimea, Syria and so much more. We are now starting to win again!

Are we starting to think maybe we should increase his salary?

This is your President speaking.

Number 23 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

WOW, “Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.” And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!

Let us all rejoice that an element of class has been returned to the nation’s highest office.

This is your President speaking.

Number 18 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Was just named the most influential show in news? You deserve it – three great people! The many Fake News Hate Shows should study your formula for success!

After that there is not much else to say.

People Unclear

I’m posting enough of these I need to recognize a series. This is number 12.

I get a bunch of my story ideas from Facebook. Let me restate that. I get almost all my story ideas from Facebook. This one came through my feed yesterday, courtesy of a Facebook friend. See the image. It’s a screen shot from Facebook, and I’ve turned down the brightness so  you can read the name of the originating publication at the bottom. It’s TheFederalist.com. And here’s what’s interesting.

The lined story was posted by Bre Payton, who is a staff writer covering culture and millennial politics, and she has some interesting things to say about the just started trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey:

Media Won’t Talk About Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s Corruption Trial

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s upcoming corruption trial has gotten very little attention from members of the media. When they do talk about it, they like to leave out the fact he’s a Democrat.

And that is strange on two levels. First, the media—meaning mean stream news outlets—pay little attention to (do not report much on) the Senator Menendez trial. Second, when they do talk about it, they neglect to mention that Menendez is a Democrat. Double strange, because double false.

Mainstream media have been reporting on the Menendez trial. CNN:

Newark, New Jersey (CNN)As he walked into the federal courthouse in New Jersey, Sen. Bob Menendez became emotional.

Speaking to reporters gathered in the rain Wednesday, he appeared to choke back tears as his son and daughter stood by his side.
“Never, not once, not once have I dishonored my public office,” said Menendez, a Democrat.


U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez “sold his office for a lifestyle he couldn’t afford” by accepting luxury trips and other favors from a wealthy doctor seeking political influence, a government prosecutor told jurors Wednesday during opening statements of the Democrat’s corruption trial.


A federal prosecutor said Wednesday the case against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez is about a corrupt politician who, “sold his office for a lifestyle he couldn’t afford, and a greedy eye doctor,” CBS News’ Pat Milton and Erica Brown report.

Prosecutor Peter Koski methodically and meticulously laid out the U.S. government’s corruption case against 63-year-old Menendez, a Democrat, who is charged with accepting bribes including lavish vacations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye doctor, in exchange for political influence and favors to advance his business interests.


WASHINGTON — The first U.S. senator to face bribery charges in nearly four decades goes on trial Wednesday in a case that could affect the Senate’s partisan makeup and the fate of President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

Robert Menendez, a Democrat in his 12th year as a senator from New Jersey, is charged with using his influence to do favors for a Florida eye doctor accused of overbilling Medicare. In return, prosecutors say, the doctor treated Menendez to “a lavish lifestyle that included private jet rides and vacations in Paris and the Caribbean.”

The New York Times:

Since his indictment more than two years ago, Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence, and last week he reiterated that. “I am going to be exonerated,” he said in a brief interview on Wednesday with reporters following a rally protesting President Trump’s immigration policies.

I am not too sure how many of these mainstream media sources I am supposed to name in order to reveal that mainstream media are covering the Menendez trial. And they are calling him a Democrat. And they have been calling him a democrat for years. From The New York Times, 7 March 2015:

For decades, Senator Robert Menendez has been one of the immovable objects of New Jersey politics. Even now, staring down expected criminal charges, the Democratic lawmaker has vowed not to give way.

So, what am I missing here? I suspect what I am missing is that Bre Payton, who reports on culture and millennial politics, has now taken a turn at writing about the news—without first reading the news.

I am guessing some of the people who commented on the Facebook post are in the same situation. Here are some comments on Facebook, without naming names:

It wouldn’t surprise me if the piece is right about it being under-reported, especially the fact that he is a Democrat. Like the author says, the NY Times piece neglected to say he was a Democrat until it was edited a few hours later, and even then it was placed in the fourth paragraph. I would lay odds that if Menendez had been a Republican, the Times would have featured that fact much more prominently, maybe even in the title.

Imagine if he were a hated Republican. It would be a top story and the only story in many cases. As things are everyone expects that Democrats lie cheat and steal so it’s not news.

Imagine if you were actually adding something to the conversation rather than spouting off emotionally charged nonsense…

Hmmmm…. So you don’t think that pointing out the contrast between the way that “the media” treats republicans and democrats is adding anything. It’s not nonsense because it’s true. It’s also not emotionally charged, just a simple observation. Just trying to understand. You must be one of those that thinks that there is no real difference in the way that the media treats public figures. Either that or you think that all republicans are bad and so deserved to be treated differently. Which is it?

Apparently a bit of persecution complex is showing. To paraphrase, “The mainstream heads won’t hype the dirt unless it’s about a Republican.” For “Republican” you can substitute “conservative” or “Christian” or “white person.”

For the record, I’ve been on the story for several years:

This is another one of those posts. Sometimes (often times) people just don’t seem to get the point. In this case it’s Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey:

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors charged Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and wealthy donor Salomon Melgen on Wednesday with participating in a long-running bribery scheme.

New Jersey’s senior senator used his office to benefit the Florida eye doctor in exchange for nearly $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions, prosecutors say.

68-page indictment outlines 14 criminal counts against Menendez, 61, including eight counts of bribery. Melgen, a 61-year-old West Palm Beach, Fla., ophthalmologist, faces 13 counts, also including eight bribery counts.

That’s from 2 April 2015. Maybe Bre Payton needs to follow my blog.

To be sure, Bre Payton’s story posted to The Federalist pointed out that The New York Times was slow coming around to the fact that Menendez is a Democrat:

On Sunday, The New York Times published a 1,288-word article about the trial, which begins Wednesday, without once mentioning Menendez’s political party affiliation. The newspaper of record then stealth-edited the piece hours later. The updated version identifies the New Jersey senator once in the fourth paragraph as a Democrat.

I like the phrase “stealth-edited.” Stealthy. In the middle of the night. When nobody was looking. So nobody would notice the Times was trying to play favorites. Good try, Payton, and welcome to the world of real news. If you worked for a real news outlet you would know it works something like this:

Editor: Nick [Corasaniti], did you write this? (Of course he did.)

Nick: Yes (gulp), sir.

Editor: I just read it. It’s already on the streets. You failed to mention Menendez is a Democrat.

Nick: Oops!

Editor: Fix it right now. Fix the on-line edition and print a correction in today’s edition.

I would like to contrast that with how things are done in the not-so-mainstream media:

The conspiracy-choked story of Seth Rich’s killing has made a sudden comeback thanks to Fox News, but the latest reporting seems to have generated more controversy than credibility.

Rich’s family is demanding a retraction from Fox for airing unsubstantiated claims about the Democratic National Committee staffer, whose death last year generated a wild river of theories and innuendo about who was behind it.

Fox’s latest reporting on the unsolved crime has an odd twist: Much of its work relies on a private investigator who is also a Fox News contributor. The investigator, in turn, is being funded by a frequent Fox News guest.

I would not bother to bring up this item, except that with Fox News this has been the modus operandi for much of its existence. Please do not ask me to cite additional examples, and I will not ask you to read them when I post them.

Industrial Strength Irony

Number 3 In A Series

Irony is a remarkable substance. Always a source of wonder. You may know the garden variety, but for those who really appreciate it there is the industrial strength. Nobody supplies that brand more reliably than the Donald Trump family:

Ivanka Trump surprised by ‘viciousness,’ ‘ferocity’ of father’s critics

By Cody Derespina Published June 12, 2017 Fox News

Ivanka Trump, in an interview Monday with “Fox & Friends,” said she has been surprised by the “viciousness” and “ferocity” that greeted her father’s presidency — but also said President Trump felt “very vindicated” by former FBI Director James Comey’s recent Senate testimony.

Ivanka, a political novice like her dad who has been thrust into the Washington spotlight as a senior adviser to the president, nevertheless glided past the more controversial interview topics like a seasoned vet Monday. But she did provide a glimpse into the first family’s daily battle with detractors.

Yes, that is shocking. Truly shocking. Not only shocking, but also dripping with industrial strength irony. Holy pudding-fest, Miss Sweet Cheeks, where have you been vacationing? They have a Trump golf resort on Mars already? Let me bring you down to Earth:

To put this into perspective, Melania Trump is telling Anderson Cooper (from a CNN clip) about the audio recording 11 years ago that features Billy Bush (NBC) and Donald Trump discussing the rewards of fame and success. Trump is exceptionally graphic and forthcoming in his description. He tells Bush that being rich and famous allows him to grab interesting women by the pussy and get away with it. Melania dismisses this as just “boy talk.” She alludes (outright asserts?) that Bush egged Trump on, coaxing him to say these things. This flying in the face of what is obvious. Donald Trump volunteered his experiences without any egging from Bush.

Oh, the humanity, the viciousness:

Self-obsessed billionaire Donald Trump earlier snatched the campaign torch from the Republican Party by scooping up conservative America’s low-hanging fruit. Full disclosure: it’s something I proclaimed over a year ago could not be done. I was wrong! How wrong? Very wrong. Donald Trump is the one candidate who displays an astonishing degree of class:

In the article, I wrote that Trump could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman said the man’s comments were “categorically untrue.”

The story ran below the fold in the business news section with the headline: How a Curious Visitor Beat Trump at the Casino Game.

And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.

There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.

The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.

I had shit for brains.

I worked for a shitty newspaper.

What sort of shit did I write.

Before I could reply, he hung up.

Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”

Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”

Craig, a calm Iowan, asked Trump what was wrong with the story. He explained that The Inquirer would run a correction if the paper had made an error.

Trump snapped that he didn’t read the story.

“No one reads the story,” the 41-year-old blustered. “I read the headline and I didn’t like it.”

Craig suggested that he read the story, then call him back if there were any problems.

He did not hear back from Trump.

See what I mean? Sterling character such as this is wasted on the presidency. Donald Trump needs to run for Pope.

But… But that was before The Donald entered into politics, where such conduct would be viewed as unseemly.

Bear with me, my heart is in the comfort zone there with sweet Ivanka, and I must pause till it come back to me.

It’s back. With industrial strength irony.

How It’s Done


Here’s how it’s done. On Wednesday Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier broke a story that was absolutely devastating to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Here’s what he had to  say (from the YouTube video):

Published on Nov 3, 2016

Video Transcript:

BRET BAIER: Two separate sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations into the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation tell Fox the following: The investigation looking into possible pay-for-play interaction between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foundation has been going on for more than a year. The Clinton Foundation investigation is a, “very high priority.” Agents have interviewed and reinterviewed multiple people about the Foundation case, and even before the WikiLeaks dumps, these sources said agents had collected a great deal of evidence. Pressed on that, one sources said, “a lot of it,” and “there is an avalanche of new information coming in every day.” As a result of the limited immunity deals to a number of top aides, including Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, the Justice Department had tentatively agreed that the FBI would destroy those laptops after a narrow review. We are told definitively that has not happened. Those devices are currently in the FBI field office here in Washington, D.C. and are being exploited. There has been some angst about Attorney General Loretta Lynch and what she has done or not done. She obviously did not impanel or go to a grand jury at the beginning. They also have a problem, these sources do, with what President Obama said today and back in October of 2015.

[Fox News Senior Political Analyst] BRIT HUME: We’ll get to that later on but he downplayed it today. He said something that suggested he’s changed his tune a bit about [FBI] Director Comey. This does not sound like something that’s going to be completed anytime soon, which suggests that if Hillary Clinton is elected, she will take office with not one but two serious investigations of her past conduct hanging over her.

BAIER: Definitely. And I pressed again and again on this very issue and these sources said, “Yes, the investigations will continue, there is a lot of evidence.” And barring some obstruction in some way, they believe they will continue to likely an indictment.

Category News & Politics

License Standard YouTube License

That is so interesting. And so damning. There is little doubt Hillary Clinton has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar and is headed for big trouble, elected or not. Let’s parse what came out Wednesday on Fox News.

First, Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier announced career-shattering revelations. He cited FBI sources (not named). The words “Clinton Foundation scandal” flashed on the screen. This language was not found in the transcript of the video, but somebody at Fox News saw it important to use “Clinton Foundation” and “scandal” in the same sentence, carrying the presumption there is a scandal related to the Clinton Foundation.

There is talk of “limited immunity deals to a number of top aides, including Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.”


Baier relates information he has obtained from his anonymous sources. A lot of it is damning.

Fox News Senior Political Analyst Brit Hume, who sits at the anchor desk with Baier, interprets what has just been said. His conclusion is that Clinton will face serious charges after she is elected.

Baier concludes “barring some obstruction in some way,” presuming there might be obstruction from the administration, Obama’s or Clinton’s. He says his sources believe there will be an indictment (barring any obstruction).

All of this would be very bad for Clinton’s plan to become president-elect on Tuesday. Very bad, indeed, if any of it were true:

Fox News anchor Bret Baier apologized Friday for reporting that federal investigators had determined that Hillary Clinton’s private email server had been hacked and that an investigation would lead to an indictment of Clinton after the election.

In fact, Baier said, after checking with his sources, there is no evidence at this time for either statement.

On Friday, ABC World News Tonight summarized the sorry episode. The 30-minute news segment cruelly replayed Bret Baier’s on-air fiasco. I captured the story in a sequence  of screen shots. First the retraction, which may or may not have been painful.


Reporter: Trump ripping the headline and running with it.

Trump: “There is more breaking news that I would like to share with you right now. The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment.”


Reporter: But the story was soon discredited. Still Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, unfazed when asked if he would correct the record.

Conway: Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton, no matter how it’s being termed.


Reporter: Today Fox News anchor Bret Baier apologized for reporting an indictment was likely, saying, “It was a mistake, and for that I am sorry.”


Reporter: But Trump, still pushing the discredited story. “Hillary is now facing major problems with perjury. The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield perhaps an indictment.”


Reporter: Today at a Trump rally in New Hampshire, another sign of just how ugly the race has gotten, this crass joke from former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu.

Sununu: Do you think Bill was referring to Hillary when he said, “I did not have sex with that woman?”


Wow! That last was just icing on the cake. Sununu, as some of will recall, was previously chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush and is a noted conservative firebrand.

And all this has been fun to for me to watch,  because I recently stepped through a Facebook conversation with some conservative correspondents. It started with a posting cautioning us to not be so “offended by what Trump said in private.” This is in reference to the audio from 2005 revealing some of Trumps coarse comments on women and what he could get away with because he was rich and famous.


I chimed in and had this to say:

Tessa talks about what Donald Trump says in private. Let’s talk about what he says in public. Many of these statements were made on the campaign trail in a bid to get a certain segment of the population to vote for him. Don’t be part of that segment:
3. “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
8. “If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’”
14. “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
16. “I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”
17. “You’re disgusting.”
To put this into context, Donald Trump said this to the opposing lawyer during a court case when she asked for a medical break to pump breast milk for her three-month-old daughter.
24. “Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, [Republican rival Marco Rubio] referred to my hands: ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”
Along with the petition to keep him out of the UK, can we also campaign for Trump to stop talking about his penis?
2. Says John McCain isn’t a hero
“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off-base.”
“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that — the face of our next president!?”
I have more.
Full disclosure. I voted for Hillary Clinton in early voting last week. In March I voted for Donald Trump in the Texas primary, because I wanted to make sure Clinton would run against Trump rather than a candidate with a possibility of winning. We will see how that works out.

That brought some reaction, leading to this curious bit:

Tessa Parker Lol John Blanton. My case in point To much of one thing and no verity is not good for the mind and soul. To reiterate stop watching CNN. Lol. To much CNN makes you lean left to much Fox News makes you lean right. Stay balanced.

We should watch Fox News to  stay balanced? Yes, I’ve heard this kind of talk before. We should teach evolution in public schools, but for balance we should tell students about Intelligent  Design and other alternatives to evolution. Mentally, I have extended the argument:

  • Scientists have made a good case for anthropogenic global warming, but some, including Donald Trump, think global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to wreck the American economy.
  • The story is that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone killing President Kennedy. People should also pay attention to what Oliver Stone had to say about it.
  • Popular media parrot the story that 19 hijackers perpetrated the attacks on 11 September 2001, but others, such as Thierry Meyssan have an explanation we should explore.
  • Yes, the Earth is more or less round. But there are those who think it is flat.

How’s that for balance? Yes, despite the adulation from a segment of American society, any resemblance of Fox News to a straight news organization would be coincidental.

It remains curious what went on here:

  • Bret Baier talked to people within the FBI and has obtained previously unknown information.
  • These people are not identified.
  • Baier came on-air on Fox News and told the story as though it were true.
  • Donald Trump picked up the story and ran with it.
  • Somebody noticed a problem, and it  turned out Baier’s story is false. He retracted the story on-air.
  • Fox campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did not denounce the story, explaining that the damage has already been done (and it would be pointless to say more—my words).
  • Donald Trump keeps running with the story, because it’s good for his campaign. And why get involved with the truth after all these years?

Yes, I’m beginning to  see how it’s done.

Friday Funny

One of a series


That image is apparently a screen shot from YouTube. It was posted on Raw Story, and it shows former Fox sports reporter Emily Austen. So, what’s funny about that? I will let Raw Story provide the details:

Reporter Emily Austen has been taken off the air by Fox Sports after she was caught on video making racist comments about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people.

While participating in a Facebook video broadcast for Barstool Sports, the 27-year-old sports reporter and others appearing on the show mocked 18-year-old Mayte Lara Ibarra, who recently revealed that she was her high school’s valedictorian and an undocumented immigrant.

“I didn’t even know Mexicans were that smart,” Austen quipped to her co-hosts during the Barstool Sports broadcast.

Booted from Fox for extraordinary display of stupidity? Now that’s funny.

Murdoch’s World


I’m cleaning out my box of old story ideas. A lot of stuff has grown stale waiting for review and is being tossed. A lot of stuff has grown stale and is being posted anyhow. Here’s one:

NPR media reporter claims that Fox News reporters would covertly post “pro-Fox rants” in blog comments sections

It’s been said that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Except, maybe, when your PR team uses iffy techniques to combat bad publicity.

In his new book “Murdoch’s World,” NPR media reporter David Folkenflik claims that Fox News Channel public relations staffers have used bogus commenter accounts to counter negative blog posts and comments about the network on the internet, Media Matters reports.

From the book:

On the blogs, the fight was particularly fierce. Fox PR staffers were expected to counter not just negative and even neutral blog postings but the anti-Fox comments beneath them. One former staffer recalled using twenty different aliases to post pro-Fox rants. Another had one hundred. Several employees had to acquire a cell phone thumb drive to provide a wireless broadband connection that could not be traced back to a Fox News or News Corp account. Another used an AOL dial-up connection, even in the age of widespread broadband access, on the rationale it would be harder to pinpoint its origins. Old laptops were distributed for these cyber operations. Even blogs with minor followings were reviewed to ensure no claim went unchecked.

Folkenflik, David (2013-10-22). Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires (p. 67). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

From Wikipedia:

David Folkenflik is an American reporter based in New York City and serving as media correspondent for National Public Radio. His work primarily appears on the NPR news programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. He also appears regularly on the “Media Circus” segment on Talk of the Nation.

From NPR:

Geraldo Rivera of the Fox News Channel once described David Folkenflik as “a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter.” Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, gave him a “laurel” for his reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.

Yes, it really does take all kinds.

Folkenflik provides some explanation in an author’s note. The company discussed is News Corporation, a concern managed by Rupert Murdoch:

News Corp and the Murdoch family made a conscious decision not to cooperate directly in the preparation of this book and actively discouraged others from doing so. That said, I have always found the company to be professional in my interactions with it and have endeavored to round out my reporting and understanding of the events described here in other ways. In particular, I am deeply appreciative of the many current and former News Corp executives and journalists in three countries who have taken time to offer insight, details, and guidance for this book.

Folkenflik, David (2013-10-22). Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires . PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

The fate of Murdoch’s News of the World was the result of circumstances that came to light four years ago:

In July 2011, News Corp closed down the News of the World newspaper in the United Kingdom due to allegations of phone hackings. The allegations include trying to access former Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s voice mail, and obtain information from his bank accounts, family’s medical records, and private legal files. Allegations of hacking have also been brought up in relation to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the Royal Family. Other allegations put out by The Guardian newspaper include the exploitation, with intent to gain access to or use private information, of a list of 4,332 names or partial names, 2,987 mobile phone numbers, 30 audio tapes of varying length and 91 PIN codes, of a kind required to access the voicemail of the minority of targets who change the factory settings on their mobile phones. The names are said to include those of British victims of 11 September 2001 terror attacks, family members of victims of the“7/7” bombings on London’s transit system, family members of British troops killed overseas, Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old missing British girl who was later found dead, actor Hugh Grant and a lawyer representing the family of Princess Diana’s lover at the inquest into her death.


In recent news, Rupert Murdoch has spread his empire into more respectable reading:

Ever since it was launched from the temple-like headquarters of the National Geographic Society in Washington in 1888, National Geographic magazine has illuminated the world’s hidden places and revealed its natural wonders.

On Wednesday, the iconic ­yellow-bordered magazine, beset by financial issues, entered its own uncharted territory. In an effort to stave off further decline, the magazine was effectively sold by its nonprofit parent organization to a for-profit venture whose principal shareholder is one of Rupert Murdoch’s global media companies.

In exchange for $725 million, the National Geographic Society passed the troubled magazine and its book, map and other media assets to a partnership headed by 21st Century Fox, the Murdoch-controlled company that owns the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Fox television network and Fox News Channel.

Full disclosure: This household has been a subscriber to National Geographic for over 30 years. We look forward to reading the good news that anthropogenic global warming is a sinister hoax by left-leaning scientists.


From The History Channel

From The History Channel

As a student of the history of combat I am as keen on a fierce dogfight as the next person. Last night I tuned in at 8 p.m., but I didn’t watch to the end. I picked up the remaining details from the morning news on CNN.

I did catch the hysterical first moments. Who did not see this coming? Moderator Bret Baier led off with the question everybody wanted to hear and everybody knew the answer: “If you are not the Republican nominee will you support the nominee? Raise your hand if you will not support the nominee if it is not you.” Gotcha!


Those are not Baier’s exact words, but that’s what he asked. Anticipation ran like an electric current through the Cleveland audience and within a certain living room in San Antonio. And the answer was every Democratic candidate’s dream. Only Donald Trump raised his hand. Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you. And thank you, Mr. Trump. May Jesus have mercy on your soul.


The Donald was The Donald last night, tearing into moderator Megan Kelly for having the temerity to question his abusive language toward a number of women. Megan, join the list of those who failed to scrape properly and are now on the Great Grudge List.

There was some excitement after that. In particular there was noticeable tension between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky. Senator Paul is a noted libertarian. Libertarians are, as is well known, like conservatives, only with a bong. In particular, for libertarians civil liberties are a big deal. Rand Paul has come out all against the unlimited monitoring of Internet and phone traffic that was previously exercised by the NSA. Governor Christie, on the other hand, would rather see us a little more red than dead. There was an exchange. Fingers were pointed. It was fun to watch.


Especially shining was Florida Senator Marco Rubio. He was on message, he was articulate, he was straight-spoken. It was almost possible to forget that he lacks a body of knowledge taught in public high schools:

Rubio is among many Republicans who have deferred to claiming “I’m not a scientist” to dodge questions about their position on climate change. Rubio may even be responsible for coining the phrase, telling GQ in 2012 that he’s unable to determine the actual age of the earth because, “I’m not a scientist, man.”


A couple who were expected to shine but who did not are presumed (until last night) likely front runners Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee failed to bring anything worthwhile. The only other non-politician besides Trump was retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. He showed up empty-handed, as well.




The debate before the debate was at 5 p.m. Central time, and it featured those few who failed to make the varsity team. Only Carly Fiorina stood out at the small table, which featured former Texas Governor Rick Perry, in what was possibly his last political appearance prior to his trial on felony charges in Texas.



This is not the last debate of GOP candidates. In the next we can expect to see some of last night’s ten to be watching on television. It’s also possible that Carly Fiorina will join the big boys next time. Keep reading.

Too Hot to Trot

Victoria's Secret model Miranda Kerr

Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr

When you’re hot you’re hot. When you’re not, then … Then you’re really OK.

This came up on The Five, a Fox News commentary program:

Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle believes that young, attractive women should be excused from voting so they could devote their time to online dating.

“It’s the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea. They don’t get it!’ said the co-host of ‘The Five” on the right-leaning news channel’s daily talk show.

Guilfoyle, 45, who helped pay her way through law school modeling for a variety of retailers including Victoria’s Secret, said young, beautiful women don’t have the proper “life experiences” to have a say in who holds elected office.

Instead, they should only be granted the privilege after they’ve gained wisdom from raising children, paying bills or dealing with real-world issues like a mortgage and health care.

‘They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world,” said Guilfoyle.

“[H]ealthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.” You’ve got my interest already. But not vote? Where have I heard this before?

1. Women would be corrupted by politics and chivalry would die out
2. If women became involved in politics, they would stop marrying, having children, and the human race would die out
3. Women were emotional creatures, and incapable of making a sound political decision.

Of course, that’s not what Guilfoyle was saying. She was only saying that young, really hot, women should excuse themselves from voting. Ann Coulter was more recently saying this:

I think [women] should be armed but should not vote. No, they all have to give up their vote, not just, you know, the lady clapping and me. The problem with women voting — and your Communists will back me up on this — is that, you know, women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it. And when they take these polls, it’s always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care.”

[Links removed]

First, let’s hope this is not a trend. That’s because this sort of thing, telling hot young women they should not vote, could be hazardous. Hazardous, that is, to those who choose to intone such advice. Take it from me. I have known a number of these hot young women. Had I dared to admonish one of them so, I could have expected dire consequences. How does having a four-inch spike heel driven through your thigh bone sound? That has got to hurt.

Let us suppose, just for the sake of argument mind you, that Guifoyle and Coulter are dispensing sound advice. Suppose a few years of maturity will reward hot young women with a deserved sense of judgment and an expanded world of wisdom. What should we expect to see?


Let start with Ms. Coulter. I have a copy of her book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, which we have seen before:

Coulter’s latest book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, hit the New York Times Best Seller List at number one on June 25th this year. If liberals are no longer squirming as much it could be because Godless takes an unfortunate detour into the real world and steps on some land mines that should be on everybody’s maps by now. It’s also a bunch of day-old bread.

Quotes from the book may illustrate the wisdom and maturity hot young women can expect attain with maturity:

Liberals’ creation myth is Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is about one notch above Scientology in scientific rigor. It’s a make-believe story, based on a theory that is a tautology, with no proof in the scientist’s laboratory or the fossil record—and that’s after 150 years of very determined looking. We wouldn’t still be talking about it but for the fact that liberals think evolution disproves God. [page 199]

Imagine a giant raccoon passed gas and perhaps the resulting gas might have created the vast variety of life we see on Earth. And if you don’t accept the giant raccoon flatulence theory for the origin of life, you must be a fundamentalist Christian nut who believes the Earth is flat. [page 214]

Darwiniacs do not have a single observable example of one species evolving into another by the Darwinian mechanism of variation and selection. All they have is a story. It is a story that inspires fanatical devotion from the cult simply because their story excludes a creator. They have seized upon something that looks like progress from primitive life forms to more complex life forms and invented a story to explain how the various categories of animals originated. But animal sequences do not prove that the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection caused the similarities. It is just as likely that the similarities are proof of intelligent design, creationism, or the Giant Raccoon’s Flatulence theory. The animal-sequence drawings allegedly demonstrating evolution by showing, for example, a little runt horse gradually becoming a grand stallion, are just that: drawings. [page 226]

Nor are intelligent design scientists looking at things they can’t explain: Quite the opposite. They are looking at things they can explain but which Darwin didn’t even know about, like the internal mechanism of the cell, and saying, That wasn’t created by natural selection—that required high-tech engineering. By contrast, the evolution cult members look at things they can’t explain and say, We can’t explain it, but the one thing we do know is that there is no intelligence in the universe. It must have been random chance, or it’s not ‘science’. [page 245]

It may be too much to hope that with maturity would come some scientific knowledge and an appreciation for rational argument. These quotes are cited in the entry for Coulter’s book in Wikipedia:

Coulter’s reliance on intelligent design and creationist sources for science, has prompted some critics of the intelligent design movement to analyze her claims. P. Z. Myers, countering Coulter’s claim that there is no evidence for the theory of evolution, points to the scientific literature that contains hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of articles about various aspects of evolution. He also argues that Coulter has it backwards: The issue is not whether there is evidence that supports evolution theory, but whether there is evidence that is explained by evolution theory, since theories are explanations for data. In response to Coulter’s citing of Jonathan Wells‘ arguments concerning peppered moth evolution, Ian Musgrave argues that Coulter misrepresents the significance of the peppered moth experiments, makes a number of factual errors, and a “wildly ignorant misrepresentation of evolution.” James Downard criticized Coulter’s favoring of secondary sources over primary sources, saying “she compulsively reads inaccurate antievolutionary sources and accepts them on account of their reinforcement of what she wants to be true.”

Media Matters for America responded to Coulter’s “strawman” arguments against evolution by noting 11 types of “distortions” in her writing and going into detail explaining why her claims are false and contrary to science. A satirical account of Coulter’s take on evolution was written by probabilist Peter Olofsson, whose tongue-in-cheek argument was that Coulter had in fact written a veiled criticism of the intelligent design movement, much like Alan Sokal did to the postmodern movement in his famous hoax.

[Some links deleted]

I don’t need to stop with Guilfoyle and Coulter. Examples abound:

Few are more stridently conservative than Schlafly. Besides her noted political conservatism, she is a near fanatical anti-feminist. Wikipedia notes “In March 2007, Schlafly said in a speech at Bates College, ‘By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape.’”

And, I don’t need to stop here, but I will. What I may have demonstrated is that wisdom is not a necessary consequence of maturity. These women have demonstrated that adequately. Regarding whether hot young women can possess wisdom and solid judgment, there are ample examples to attest to it. Women like Guilfoyle who disagree may risk public ridicule. Men who disagree may risk a swift kick in the nuts.

People Unclear


See what I mean? I’m constantly telling people that I’m not about to run out of this kind of stuff, and people like Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt are constantly coming forward to reassure me I’m still on track. Here is what Earhardt said recently:

Law abiding citizens who come to the South need to understand there is a culture in the South of disobeying the law. People from other parts of the country who come to the Sourh need to abide by our accomodation of stupidity.

Those are not Earhardt’s exact words, but she said the same thing, only using different language, which I will reproduce here:

Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt on Wednesday lashed out at atheists who had asked that Christian plaques be removed from public schools in Texas, saying that they “need to understand the culture” in the South.

And I think, growing up in the South, people in Wisconsin, these atheists in other cities need to understand the culture in the South, and how church is a very integral part of our childhood and growing up, and it’s a very important part for the Southern culture.”

I can attest to the truth of Earnhardt’s dismal view of the general level of intelligence in the South, in this case Midlothian, Texas. Although the region south of the Ohio River doesn’t have a lock on this kind of stupidity and lawlessness, at times it does seem to celebrate it inordinately. Recent examples abound. Here is just one:

The parents of a Buddhist student are joining forces with the American Civil Liberties Union to sue a public school board in north Louisiana, alleging their son was called “stupid” and given low marks for not adhering to Christian doctrine taught in his 6th grade science class.

Sharon and Scott Lane are the parents of three children enrolled in the Sabine Parish School System in rural northwest Louisiana. In a complaint filed Wednesday (Jan. 22) in U.S. District Court, the Lanes argue their son “C.C” became the “target of proselytization and harassment by faculty and administration” at Negreet High School when it became apparent he was not a Christian.

Illegal actions of the teacher involved and those of the school administration were so blatant that this case never went to trial. The school subsequently entered into a consent decree which requires the school to end religious proselytizing and to accomodate students of varied cultures.

The consent decree, a court order agreed to by both parties, ends a lawsuit filed in January by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana on behalf of a Buddhist sixth-grader of Thai descent, “C.C.,” who was harassed by staff and students because of his faith.

“No child should feel that a teacher is trying to impose religious beliefs, and this agreement ensures that this will no longer be the case at Sabine Parish schools,” said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. “We’re glad the school board worked with us to bring this matter to a quick and amicable resolution.”

Under the consent decree, the school board must end official prayers during class and school events, refrain from disparaging any particular faith, and prohibit staff from teaching creationism and other biblical doctrine as fact. The consent decree also protects students’ rights to express their faith and pray privately and of their own volition. To ensure that the consent decree is carried out properly and that the constitutional violations do not recur, the board will also conduct in-service training for staff on First Amendment issues and the effects of religious discrimination on students.

Meanwhile, up north in Mount Vernon, Ohio, science teacher John Freshwater taught religious-based creationism as science and engaged in Christian proselytizing in class. That chicken has finally come home to roost as recently announced by the NCSE:

The case began in 2008, when a local family accused Freshwater, then a Mount Vernon, Ohio, middle school science teacher, of engaging in inappropriate religious activity and sued Freshwater and the district. Based on the results of an independent investigation, the Mount Vernon City School Board voted to begin proceedings to terminate his employment. After thorough administrative hearings that proceeded over two years and involved more than eighty witnesses, the presiding referee issued his recommendation that the board terminate Freshwater’s employment with the district, and the board voted to do so in January 2011. (The family’s lawsuit against Freshwater was settled in the meantime.)

Nearly ten years ago the Dover, Pennsylvania, School District prepared to introduce Intelligent Design, a well-known religious concept, into the science curriculum. That ended with a suit brought by parents of students in the school. The suit resulted in a loss by the school district at heavy expense to the tax payers. The case was tried in federal court, and the trial judge additionally chastized members of the school administration for their perjured testimony. Judge John E. Jones III concluded in his 139 page decision:

  • For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the religious nature of ID [intelligent design] would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child. (page 24)
  • A significant aspect of the IDM [intelligent design movement] is that despite Defendants’ protestations to the contrary, it describes ID as a religious argument. In that vein, the writings of leading ID proponents reveal that the designer postulated by their argument is the God of Christianity. (page 26)
  • The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. (page 31)
  • The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory. (page 43)
  • Throughout the trial and in various submissions to the Court, Defendants vigorously argue that the reading of the statement is not ‘teaching’ ID but instead is merely ‘making students aware of it.’ In fact, one consistency among the Dover School Board members’ testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, as will be discussed in more detail below, is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID because it was not being taught to the students. We disagree. …. an educator reading the disclaimer is engaged in teaching, even if it is colossally bad teaching. …. Defendants’ argument is a red herring because the Establishment Clause forbids not just ‘teaching’ religion, but any governmental action that endorses or has the primary purpose or effect of advancing religion. (footnote 7 on page 46)
  • After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. …It is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research. Expert testimony reveals that since the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, science has been limited to the search for natural causes to explain natural phenomena. (page 64) [for “contrived dualism”, see false dilemma.]
  • [T]he one textbook [Pandas] to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and flawed science, as recognized by even the defense experts in this case. (pages 86–87)
  • ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID. (page 89)
  • Accordingly, we find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom, in violation of the Establishment Clause. (page 132)

No, Ms. Earhardt, sane people coming into a region of chaos in this country do not have to accomodate lawlessness and idiocy. The American legal system protects us from the lawlessness, and public exposure and ridicule protects us from the idiocy. On that second point I am not always sure.

People Unclear


It’s beginning to appear I’m never going to exhaust the supply of this stuff. This latest is from psychiatrist Keith Ablow:

Ablow started by explaining that from his perspective “as a psychiatrist,” Obama thinks he’s a “citizen and a leader of the world” who doesn’t belong to one country and “perhaps least of all this country because he has it in for us as disappointing people. People who’ve been a scourge on the face of the Earth. And so for him to then say we’re going to seal the borders and protect Americans when in my view, in his mind, if only unconsciously, he’s thinking, ‘Really? We’re going to prevent folks suffering with illnesses from coming across the border flying into our airports when we have visited a plague of colonialism that has devastated much of the world, on the world? What is the fairness in that?’ I believe Barack Obama is thinking.”

He continued, speculating that the president believes America shouldn’t be immune to Ebola when “others are suffering, when we are a bad people.” As evidence of Obama’s supposed anti-Americanism, Ablow cited “the apology tour, having heard his wife say, you know, when they were campaigning that she hadn’t been proud of America until her husband was, you know, had his sights set on the presidency. With him, you know, attending a church where the pastor said ‘God Damn America’ and the rest of it. It all fits, doesn’t it? … How can you protect a country you don’t like? Why would you?”

Of course, I find this to be most depressing news. Imagine. Our president is “anti-American,” and we’re just now finding that out. Call me a left wing liberal if you want, but had I possessed this information earlier I would not have voted for Obama. Certainly not twice.

Left wing liberal that I am, I’m going to give this item some Skeptical Analysis. Let’s start with “just who is Keith Ablow?”

Ablow was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the son of Jeanette Norma and Allan Murray Ablow. Ablow attended Marblehead High School, graduating in 1979. He graduated from Brown University in 1983, magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in neurosciences. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1987, and completed his psychiatry residency at the Tufts-New England Medical Center. He was Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology in psychiatry in 1993 and forensic psychiatry in 1999.

While a medical student, he worked as a reporter for Newsweek and a freelancer for the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun and USA Today. After his residency, Ablow served as medical director of the Tri-City Mental Health Centers and then became medical director of Heritage Health Systems and Associate Medical Director of Boston Regional Medical Center.

[Links deleted]

Those seem to be rock solid credentials. Maybe we should listen to what Dr. Ablow has to say. Of course, that would include some of this, again from Wikipedia:

Ablow has made a number of controversial statements, including psychological assessments of various celebrities he has never examined, that have drawn criticism from other practitioners in his field as well as from various organizations and groups which were offended by his comments. Ablow has stated in an article on the Fox News website that years ago he “resigned in protest” from the American Psychiatric Association, which is the governing body that sets the standard of practice in the field of psychiatry and publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In the article, he did not state what he had been protesting about, but expressed his disagreement with various entries in the DSM.

Articles by Ablow later clarified that he worried that the American Psychiatric Association had stood silent while the psycho-therapeutic skills once learned by psychiatrists were left out of current training regimens. He also agreed with leaders in the field like Paul McHugh, MD, and Phillip Slavney, MD, that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (published by the APA) was oversimplifying human experience and pathologizing it.

In April 2011, Ablow wrote a health column for FoxNews.com which criticized designer Jenna Lyons for publishing an advertisement in the J. Crew catalogue in which she was depicted painting her young son’s toenails hot pink. Ablow wrote that gender distinctions are “part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race”. The column sparked a controversy around his claims that painting a child’s toenails pink could have an effect on their gender identity and led to accusations of overreaction, as was reported upon by numerous news media sources. Ablow refused to back down, even re-posting the column on his Facebook page.

During the 2012 Republican primary, Ablow wrote a column arguing that Newt Gingrich’s three marriages actually made him more qualified to be president. He wrote: “When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.” The column was criticized, with Rod Dreher of The American Conservative commenting thusly: “Oh for frack’s sake. At some point, you have to wonder when shamelessness crosses the line from character defect to psychopathology. If only Dr. Leo Spaceman were a Republican, he could have a lucrative career on Fox.”

Ablow later clarified that his position was that one’s private sexual life should remain private and that dissecting the sex lives of public figures was counterproductive and salacious.

On August 12, 2014, as a guest co-host on the Fox News show, Outnumbered, Ablow criticized the weight of First Lady Michelle Obama, stating, “she needs to drop a few [pounds].” Ablow continued his attacks on an August 21, 2014 segment, telling the women panelists on the show that they also need to lose weight.

On October 9, 2014, concerning the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Ablow opined on Fox News that he believed the president “may literally believe we should suffer along with less fortunate nations. And if he does, that is a very dangerous psychological stance from which to confront Ebola”. [25] He also claimed that President Obama was not protecting the United States from Ebola because his “affiliations” and “affinities” were more with Africa.  His Ebola comments drew criticism, including from Fox host Greg Gutfield of The Five.

[Some links deleted]

Oh, rats! It is possible that between graduating magna cum laude from Brown University and the present Dr. Ablow has lost a few brain cells. This is potentially a tragedy of the first order.

The Media Matters item additionally relates Dr. Ablow’s take on the president’s inner psyche:

ABLOW (AS OBAMA’S “PSYCHE”): “You miserable people have destroyed so much in the world in terms of good things, and now you’re going to build a wall? Really? To insulate yourself from things that are devastating other nations when your gains are ill-gotten? And the very fact that you can build a wall — you’re using wealth that you never should have had to build it. This is just another manifestation of you didn’t build that, business. Right? You didn’t build the right to make yourself immune from something that is devastating a country with lesser resources.”

Some of you reading Dr. Ablow’s remarks naively—taking them at face value—have possibly become concerned over his current condition and his prospects for future employment. Put your mind at ease. Dr. Ablow, while not necessarily stabilized, is safely secure regarding his employment prospects. For those concerned about his future, The Washington Post has wonderful news for you:

Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow, who recently accused President Obama of performing poorly against Ebola because of his “affinities” with Africa, was signed to a new contract with the network in late September, Fox News has confirmed to the Erik Wemple Blog. A Fox News contributor since 2007, Ablow has a history of making some of the more out-there statements on a network whose commentary frequently lifts eyebrows.

Though Ablow’s renewal came before his comments on President Obama and Ebola, it came after Ablow posited that the purpose of last summer’s World Cup was “to distract people. This is like Rome . . . I can see why Obama would love the World Cup.” He also told Stuart Varney of Fox Business, “It’s a little too convenient when we have a president who, I contend, has it in for Americans, and we elected him because we were fearful at the time — we better elect someone who’s not very patriotic because, God, we could have terrorists attack us for being Americans. OK, so, we did that.”

Fox News fans out there, keep watching. Skeptical Analysis fans, keep reading. There’s sure to be more to come.

Go West

From Media Matters

From Media Matters

It’s been over two years since (now ex) Congressman Allen West popped up on my radar. I think I may have been disrespectful of him at the time, likening him to a Heinz 57 candidate, an allusion to the sparkling portrayal by actor James Gregory in the movie The Manchurian Candidate:

Angela Lansbury practically stole the spotlight from Frank Sinatra. The movie was a Cold War thriller about a “brainwashed” American soldier turned assassin. Lansbury’s on-screen husband is played wonderfully by James Gregory as lame brained Senator John Iselin, who is instructed by his domineering wife to proclaim there are (pick a number) communists working in the Defense Department. Ultimately Senator Iselin confronts his wife over breakfast and demands to know just how many communists. This he does while pouring Heinz ketchup on his breakfast eggs. Lansbury eyes the ketchup bottle and comes up with the number. Later Iselin is addressing reporters to announce there are 57 communists working in the defense department.

This was shortly after then-Congressman West was telling us how many (number varied) communists were serving in Congress as Democrats.

Anyhow, those were the fun days.

No wait. The fun days are back:

Fox News contributor Allen West, who has previously called President Obama an “Islamist” with unclear “loyalties,” is now calling on the military to ignore orders from its commander in chief.

The Military Times reported that the Department of Defense will expand an existing program, Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI), to allow recruiters “to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mostly rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training.” The program “is capped at 1,500 recruits per year. Officials say it’s unclear how many of those might be unlawful DACA status immigrants as opposed to others who are also eligible for military service under MAVNI, including those with legal, nonpermanent visas such as students or tourists.”

No, that’s not what the fun is all about. What the fun is all about is what retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West had to say about it. Again from Media Matters:

West, a retired Army Lt. Colonel whose service ended in controversy, reacted to the news on his Facebook page by writing that “Barack Hussein Obama took out his pen and ordered our Military to enlist illegal aliens. In other words, this charlatan has allowed those who have disrespected our Constitution and are not citizens to take an oath to support and defend the very document, our rule of law, of which they are in violation.”

He added: “This is an illegal order and should not be followed by our Military.”

Here is Allen Wests’ Facebook posting on the matter:

Morning folks. While you were sleeping, Barack Hussein Obama took out his pen and ordered our Military to enlist illegal aliens. In other words, this charlatan has allowed those who have disrespected our Constitution and are not citizens to take an oath to support and defend the very document, our rule of law, of which they are in violation. Obama has no constitutional authority to make any laws or rules concerning naturalization as stated in Art I Sect 8 Clause 4. This is an illegal order and should not be followed by our Military. As well, we are pink-slipping men and women in uniform, Americans, and Obama wants to enlist illegals. We are already outsourcing our national security to Syrian Islamists. This is intolerable and just another reason why we must flip the Senate and begin to reverse Obama’s tyranny. Any Democrat supporting this illegal order needs to be voted out!

The Military Times relates the details that so dismay Allen West:

On average, the military recruits about 5,000 noncitizens each year, nearly all of them permanent U.S. residents, or so-called “green card” holders. Starting in 2006, DoD began accepting some foreigners with nonpermanent visas, such as students or tourists, if they had special skills that are highly valued.

After entering military service, foreigners are eligible for expedited U.S. citizenship. Since 2001, more than 92,000 foreign-born service members have become citizens while serving in uniform.

The MAVNI program began in 2008 and remains a pilot program. DoD notified Congress on Thursday that the program, which was due to expire at the end of this fiscal year, will be extended for another two years and will for the first time include DACA-status immigrants.

In the foregoing DACA stands for Deferred Action for Child Arrivals. These are typically children of illegal immigrants. They are people who, due to their age and the manner they were brought into the country, are not classified as criminals.

Over 50 years ago I served a standard tour in the Navy Reserves and observed back then we recruited a number of foreign nationals into the Navy. As a college student following my active service I had a room mate who was a Mexican citizen. After graduation he entered the United States Army.

According to the Times, “The military services are not required to accept recruits under MAVNI.” That leaves me wondering what Allen West is all about with “This is an illegal order and should not be followed by our Military.” It could be this is something known only to Mr. West.

In the mean time I am wishing we could have James Gregory back. We have a wonderful new role for him. The script has already been written.